OBITUARY

Clifford Fredrick John Ostermeyer

September 21, 1923February 16, 2021

Clifford Fredrick John Ostermeyer “Cliff Ayres” September 21,1923 – February 16, 2021

Clifford comes from a community of farmers in northeast Indiana. In the fall of 1923 while traveling through Preble, Indiana in a horse-drawn wagon, Edwin and Janetta Ostermeyer made an unexpected stop at a farmhouse on the side of the road so “Nettie” could give a difficult breach birth to their first child, a son named Clifford.

Cliff and his brother Walter and sister Mary Ann were raised during the depression in Fort Wayne where their parents ran a men’s boarding house in their 3-story home on Creighton Avenue. It was popular with German immigrants because of the name Ostermeyer and because his parents spoke German. In the summer Cliff would live and work on his aunt’s and uncle’s farms, mainly Walter Ellet’s farm.

For fun, Cliff would sometimes get to visit the Fort Wayne fire station No. 3, which is now a museum, where his dad was a city firefighter. The neighborhood kids would play tag on the hook and ladder truck, which was the largest truck in the city at that time.

After graduating from South Side High School, he joined the Army during World War II where he served from 1943 to1946. Although issued a helmet, he preferred to show off his pompadour hairstyle. As an Entertainment Specialist he sang in USO shows with fellow service men, Johnnie Ray and Anthony Bennedetto, later known as Tony Bennett. He stayed an extra year in Europe to entertain the troops who were waiting to get back to the states after the war.

For several years after the war Cliff lived in New York City and pursued a career in entertainment using the stage name Cliff Ayers. He was thrilled to sing onstage with big bands of the day including Sammy Kaye and Jimmy Dorsey at the Rainbow Room and the Waldorf Astoria hotel. Prior to forming his first independent label, Emerald Records, he recorded for Decca, Columbia, and Roulette.

Transitioning back to Fort Wayne in the early 1950s to start a family with his wife Jeanette, he continued to sing in clubs and record. His entrepreneurial spirit was evident throughout the 1960s as he owned or managed several small businesses including a tv repair shop, nightclubs, rental properties, and an entertainment newspaper. He also created and starred in a television show called, “Breakfast in Fort Wayne”, which was one of the first television shows that originated in Fort Wayne. In 1968 he was nominated to run for political office on the Democratic ticket for state representative.

In 1973 he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and continued to sing and record. He changed the name of his newspaper to the Music City Entertainer, and started a record label where he recorded and produced a wide range of artists. While living in Nashville, he would often commute to Miami for business and occasional singing gigs. In 2003 he became involved with the creation of the Big Band Hall of Fame in West Palm Beach, Florida and was also a member.

Cliff was always happy when he had a boat parked in the driveway ready to go. Some of his favorite pastimes were fishing for bluegill, attending airshows at Baer Field and elsewhere, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg festival and auction, going to the dog races in Florida, watching classic films, going to Hall’s restaurant, seeing relatives at family reunions, and an impromptu performance for anyone who asked.

Semi-retired, by 2005 Cliff settled in Fort Lauderdale with his companion Ursel Blanco. In 2017 he moved to Indianapolis to live with his daughter, Tessa before they both relocated back to Fort Wayne in 2019.

Clifford died peacefully at home. He was preceded in death by his parents Edwin and Janetta (Elett) Ostermeyer, sister Mary Ann (Wayne) Keefer, son Christopher, and daughter Celeste. He leaves behind his sons Clark Ostermeyer and Curtis (Alice) Ostermeyer, his daughters Tina Ostermeyer and Tessa Ward, all of Fort Wayne, four grandchildren, one great grandson, his brother Walter Ostermeyer of Fort Wayne and several nieces and nephews.

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Services

  • Reception

    Sunday, February 21, 2021

  • Visitation

    Sunday, February 21, 2021

  • Funeral Service

    Sunday, February 21, 2021

Memories

Clifford Fredrick John Ostermeyer

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Martina Leipert

February 24, 2021

I‘m a relatives of Ursel Blanco from Germany. We‘ve met Cliff several times in Germany and one time by Ursel in North Lauderdale. We are sad to hear that he is gone. We wish Ursel and his family all the best.

Judy Bireley

February 23, 2021

I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Cliff. My dad, John Bireley, now deceased, and Cliff were best of buddies. I'm not sure how they originally met, but my dad served in the Army in WWII, mainly in Europe. He was from Fort Wayne. My dad and mom, Jeanette (Jan) often talked of the good times they had together with Cliff.
The last time I spoke with Cliff was when he and another gentleman, possibly his brother, visited me at Fire Station #4 on Lahmeyer Rd. where I worked as a secretary. I may still have either a record album or a cassette tape of him performing, possibly on a cruise ship.
May you rest in peace, Cliff. I hope you and dad are in Heaven making each other laugh again and having the best of times. Thank your for your service in the Army. May God bless you and your family. Judy Bireley judyandwinston1@comcast.net

Shannon Schrieber-Jackson

February 22, 2021

Words could never express how thankful I am for who I came to know as my father. Cliff was always there for me with a laid back loving hand. He taught me how to be kind, gentle, and how you are to treat others, especially when you love them. I have to say that when I was a child, he was always patient and loving. He was carefree for sure. Growing up, we spent many days that turned into years fishing off his white house boat and swimming off the dock where his boat floated at Percy Priest lake. When I grew up and had my first born (Shianne), he was always there for her and I. He spent many days that turned into years providing her with the same loving treatment as he did when I was a child. When I had my second child (Savannah), he was always there for her too when needed. I am forever appreciative of the love he gave. I will see you one day again. I love you Cliff, (Dad/Grandpa).

Shianne Schrieber

February 22, 2021

I will go on to say I am so thankful for the time I was able to spend with this man. Granpa Cliff was an extraordinary man and practically raised me (along with my mother) in my early childhood. In the summers I remember always immediately passing my grandparents home in Nashville and running to his office. He was my safe haven from everything in life. I will never forget the times he would take me out to the lake for our early fishing days. I was always rambunctious and even spilled an entire half gallon jug of chocolate milk once in his new boat.. Not once did this man ever lose his cool or “cry over spilt milk.” Granpa was always the calm of our family. He was simply a good man. Nothing could shock or shake him.. This man could accomplish anything, but most of all he could take away any fear or pain you had by his words of wisdom. He was the greatest father/grandfather. No story could encompass all this man has done.

I love you Granpa Cliff. I’ll see you soon and I hope you are at peace.
Xoxxo

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Cliff as a toddler.

FROM THE FAMILY

Cliff age 6 and a half, and his brother Walter age 2 and a half. Taken at Aunt Anna's. 1931.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Cliff, his mother, Janetta, his sister, Mary Ann, and his brother, Walter, with some of the boarders at their boarding house.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Cliff as a toddler.

FROM THE FAMILY

Cliff age 6 and a half, and his brother Walter age 2 and a half. Taken at Aunt Anna's. 1931.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Cliff, his mother, Janetta, his sister, Mary Ann, and his brother, Walter, with some of the boarders at their boarding house.

FROM THE FAMILY

Cliff with his wonderful cousin, the one and only, Glenn Adair.

FROM THE FAMILY

Cliff and friend. South Side High School graduation. 1941.

FROM THE FAMILY

Cliff with his father Edwin.

FROM THE FAMILY

Cliff and brother Walter with cousins Walter James, Glenn Adair, and Bud Poehler.